Andromeda and the Milky Way above the Oregon Tree (Grant Grove Kings Canyon National Park)
Pilgrims in a pine temple
Wandering into the silent and bear-black forest, the silvered sliver of a hooking moon set, we filled every silent space with amber-toothed, snarling phantoms and held them at bay with nips of cognac and the click of the shutter. Silhouettes under pearlescent starlight, the big trees are primeval minarets, spires of the oldest and grandest cathedral on Earth. We moved reverently, slowly - pilgrims in a pine temple come in the dark to play witness.
Some amongst these trees were old when men lashed Andromeda to the briny rocks and awaited the leviathan. We've filled the interceding centuries with other lambs led to slaughter, and emerging from darkness, discovered her still radiant, shackled to a constellation that is dying in a corner of the sky. Then as now, we are infants amongst giants, in wonder at skies the big trees have seen reel a million times, shades passing in the night. These are the days of miracle and wonder indeed.
We headed into the Sierras looking for a winter adventure, hoping for giant, snow-bound sentinels holding winter in great, fragrant handfuls. Instead we found beautiful, unseasonable warmth and clear night skies amongst the carpeted and ancient groves. We came for the snow and found so much more in its absence.</p